Adolescent leadership development through participation in a robotics design challenge experience
This research study explored the adolescent leadership development experiences within teams participating in the Robotics Design Challenge sponsored by the University of Missouri Engineering Department. Since the design challenge was not a leadership development program, this research explored whether or not leadership development occurred. The first research question was whether leadership development experiences emerged. The second question took a constructivist and situational view of how the adolescents experience leadership development. The third research question examined roles of the adult mentors that fostered leadership development. The final question explored the adult-mentors' descriptions of the resulting leadership development experiences. Two sites, seven teams, and twenty-eight adolescents, ages 10 through 12, were observed during team meetings and participated in focus groups. The environment included authentic opportunity, mentor access, amount of challenge, variety of tasks, and quality and acceptance of feedback. The adolescents exhibited leadership traits and behaviors such as confidence, knowledge, teamwork, and problem solving. The adultmentors provided valuable structure and feedback. The adults reflected on the level of difficulty as being important to developing leadership and described several adolescents who exhibited leadership traits and behaviors. The robotics design challenge provided an environment in which adolescents could develop leadership skills. Providing similar opportunities to additional adolescents and incorporating leadership evelopment into those activities could be beneficial to the overall development of the adolescents.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License